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WPP sees 6% revenue rise and improved new business

LONDON - WPP Group has reported revenues for the first quarter of the year up by nearly 6%, including a 12% rise in the UK, and said there are signs that an increasing number of new-business opportunities.

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In a trading statement issued this morning, WPP said that revenues from its media and advertising business were up by over 14%, while public relations and public affairs, the area worst hit by the recession, has begun to pick up, with revenue growth of 6%.

Like-for-like revenues, excluding Cordiant, were up almost 4%, the third quarter running that there has been an improvement.

WPP said it had won new-business billings of £514m in the first quarter, including a slice of Microsoft's $400m direct marketing account and J Walter Thompson winning the £25m UK account for Golden Wonder crisps.

WPP Group has reported revenues for the first quarter of the year up by nearly 6%, including a 12% rise in the UK, and said there are signs that an increasing number of new-business opportunities.In the statement, it said: "There are an increasing number of new-business opportunities as clients turn their attention to managing for growth and the top line, rather than focusing totally on costs. In addition, there are signs that corporate expenditures, particularly in technology, are picking up, possibly filling any potential vacuum in consumer spending."

The company also said that it had improved its liquidity, cutting debt by £538m and bringing net debt down to £767m compared with £1.3bn last year.

Earlier this month, WPP quelled a potential shareholder rebellion over an incentive scheme for top executives that could see chairman and chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell take a bonus of as much as £44m, depending on how the company performs over the next five years.

Shares in the company were trading down by 5.5p this morning at 565p, a fall of almost 1%.

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